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At the time of this writing, we are on a “Stay at Home” order because of COVID-19. All non-essential employees are either working from home or in extreme cases, laid off until further notice. Either way, it’s prompted much higher laptop, webcam, and Internet usage and sometimes in a very small space!
My challenge was to create a professional-looking environment for Zoom video conferencing and Facebook Live streaming in a small space. How small? How about 4′ x 4′? And the real challenging part? To do it, I had to use things that were already in my home or garage!
I set out by emptying a corner of my studio and marking off four feet square. As you can see by the final product on the right you can fit a lot in that space. Read below for what I put in there to make it work.
My Parts list
It started with a small task chair. No arms to save space. Amazon has a perfect one here https://amzn.to/2XSXnWl
This Adjustable garment rack was a HUGE help. I originally got mine at Target.com and it is adjustable up and down as well as has the slideouts at the top but Amazon has a similar here: https://amzn.to/2wUW26h
(2) 8 1/2″ clamp base light with reflector. I got mine at Harbor Freight but Amazon has a similar one here: https://amzn.to/2XSp8yh
I used (2) 13W CFL lights that I already had. They do save some energy over old bulb lights but they still generate a lot of heat. LED lights like these would be a much safer choice – especially if you have to put diffusion material over them to soften the light. Amazon has a 2-pack https://amzn.to/2KjMRzw (Remember the get two of the same color balance! See images below.)
A moving blanket. 40″ x 72″ was draped over the garment rack to help keep the echo down. I got mine at Harbor Freight but Amazon has nicer ones here: https://amzn.to/2yBnt5q
I had a fairly sturdy 30″ tall plant stand so I used it. If I had to buy it I would do something like this 36″ stand: https://amzn.to/2VsYZVk You could go with a 12″ wide shelf if you have one.
A 24″ wide x 36″ high desk of some sort. It has to be 24″ to fit in between the posts of the garment rack. I used an adjustable posing table but you could use a laptop stand too, like this one https://amzn.to/2RYwJHY
An 11″ x 14″ certificate frame with a real certificate or a picture if you don’t have one. I got mine at Michael’s Craft but Amazon has a very similar one here: https://amzn.to/3btthwz
A 2-prong extension cord with multiple outlets. Amazon has a GE cord here: https://amzn.to/2RUi2FO
As I was using things from my studio I did have access to an adjustable height posing table. A 24″ wide desk would do just as well OR if you have to use a 36″ or 48″ desk you could, you’ll just lose about 6 or 7 inches in front of you. It won’t affect how far back the computer is.
I used white poster board on the top of the posing table, just cut to size, so that the light from above would bounce back up a bit and eliminate the shadows under the chin.
I was lucky that I already had white walls. If you don’t you can hang full-size white bedsheets behind you. Just stretch them tight so you don’t get wrinkles. You _could_ do a Chroma Key or Green Screen behind you if you wanted BUT there’s some pushback because, if not lighted correctly, it looks like crap.
Speaking of lights. Make sure you don’t mix the color temperature of the lights. Get bright white if you can. Sunlight is about 5500K (kelvin) whereas most incandescent bulbs are around 3500K (warm light). I used 14W CFL lights here. See the examples below. This would be really cool if you used Phillips HUE RGB lights!
The books and the vase with flowers I already had. Maybe you do too.
How to make everything look straight? Put it into perspective. The angle of the lens makes straight lines look angled. It makes things seem closer or farther away than they are. Once you get the height of your desk and chair look at the items in your background to see what appears crooked. Then simply hang the items at an angle to counteract the effect. Pictures below.
Full images gallery:
The main reason that someone uses a laptop is for its portability. Going “wireless” makes it easy to pick up your computer and work from your favorite coffee shop, park bench, or even the beach. But when you’re at your desk and plugged into power and possibly a second monitor, why not get the best performance from your Internet connection?
At the time of this writing, we are on a “Stay at Home” order because of COVID-19. All non-essential employees are either working from home or in extreme cases, laid off until further notice. Either way, it’s prompted much higher laptop, webcam, and Internet usage.
Many older Windows laptops, especially business-class ones, have a dedicated 10/100Mbs NIC – or ethernet port, as it’s commonly called – as well as onboard wireless adapters. Most newer ultra-portables laptops, and especially the Macbook Pro and Air, do not have a dedicated ethernet port but do have the capability to support up to Gigabit (10/100/1000Mbs) – plenty for today’s home Internet connections. So what to do?
I have the older MBP 13″ with two USB ports and two Thunderbolt 2 or Mini Display ports (which has been replaced by USB-C in the newer models.) If I were to add just the USB to Ethernet adapter I would lose one of my USB ports – prime real estate that I just didn’t want to give up. In fact, this option is both Plug-n-Play (requires no added software) and actually added two additional USB ports at the same time! Super Win/Win!
It also allowed me to plug in the USB sound card, lavalier microphone and HDMI capture card!
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Picking up the tradition Chris Brogan started 13 years ago I’ve thought long and hard about what three words will guide me through this year. Why? Because I’ve never done it before and my year didn’t turn out as I would have liked. So, let’s give it a whirl and prove Chris right!
2019 was a strange year.
Looking back on the ups and downs of 2019 only one word came to mind: Meh.
There were some amazing high points, like becoming a Certified Go-Giver Speaker with Bob Burg (I have been a Certified Coach since 2011) and spending a long weekend honing my photography skills with Peter Hurley, (arguably) the best Headshot photographer in the world. But, the frustrations of not completing a couple of key goals really got me down.
My 3 words
Humor. Life can be decidedly unfunny at times. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found it harder to laugh about things – especially about myself. I’m going to consciously look for the lighter side of things, and in the process, hopefully, make others laugh too.
Empathy. Generalizing, I think we assume this to mean “walk a mile in another person’s shoes.” There’s more to it though, or as Bob says, “but we all have different sized feet!” Our environment causes us to look at things differently. We all have our own unique perspectives. I’m going to listen more to try and understand the why of what people say and do.
Consistency. Fits and starts almost killed me last year. I’ve created a schedule for on my calendar until activities and tasks become a habit. Life happens, but I’m less likely to get derailed if I have a strong habit of regularly getting things done. I’m not going to repeat last year!
What about you?
Leave a comment below with your three words or join the conversation over in Twitter with #My3Words. See you soon!